The hero of this sensational first novel is an alto-sax virtuoso of John Coltrane / Sonny Rollins proportions. He also happens to be a walking, talking, Shakespeare-quoting bear. The scion of a long line of European circus bears (and the product of an amazing roll of the genetic dice), the Bear, when we first meet him, is eking out a living doing a street dancing-bear act with his friend and keeper Jones. But what the Bear is really best at - besides making himself cosmically miserable - is blowing the sax. One day he makes a bold foray out to jam with Arthur Blythe and Lester Bowie at a New York club, thus beginning a musical (and romantic) odyssey: a semi-clandestine gig and a live album; a nightclub bust and a spell in the city's dankest jail; freedom, a recording contract, a road tour; a vexed, physically passionate, inter-species love affair with a beautiful woman named Iris. And finally, a triumphent return to a jazz club inside the Brooklyn Bridge, where the Bear plays a solo that blasts him out of the space/time continuum.